Step Outside - Indiana WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 Step Outside - Indiana 144 144 Sat, 20 Oct 2018 04:12:44 -0500 Best Places to Fish in the Midwest This Fall Walleyes and a variety of salmon are on the autumn menu in the Midwest as anglers have a last chance to fish open water before the winter freeze starts to set in. Fishing for either species can be excellent; how the weather and the water temperatures line up are more critical where salmon are concerned, but the fall run extends well into November.

Walleyes aren’t so picky, and all the traditional waters such as the Mississippi River, Big Saint Germain Lake in Wisconsin, Otter Tail Lake in Minnesota and Great Lakes feeder streams give up tons of  ’eyes in the fall.

One Last Salmon Fling

The big attraction nowadays is king (chinook) salmon that make their fall spawning runs up rivers and creeks. Whether fishing from a small boat or a Great Lakes charter boat, latching on to a 20- or 30-pound king can quickly warm up an otherwise chilly fall day.

Hot Spots To Fish: Michigan’s Grand River, which empties into the eastern side of Michigan, is a prime destination for salmon. Getting Bit Guide Service (616-570-2946, in Grand Rapids is a good starting point. In fact, any port of call along Lake Michigan on either the east or west sides is likely to have plenty of knowledgeable salmon guides or charters. Fishing from jetties or piers – such as the famed McKinley Pier in Milwaukee – is also productive during the fall salmon runs.

In northwestern New York, the Salmon River lives up to its name through mid-October, but the run might linger into November in the Lake Ontario feeder, depending on the weather. Coho and steelheads also are in the mix too.

The Yankee Angler (315-963-2065, in Pulaski, N.Y. keeps tabs on the fishing. In the big waters of Lake Ontario’s southern shore at Rochester, N.Y., give Reel Em In Sportfishing Charters (585-317-5325, a call.

Farther to the northwest, the waters and feeders of Lake Superior near Sault Ste. Marie are teeming with big salmon. One of the benefits here is that you can always slip in to the St. Mary’s River System to get away from those rough autumn nor’ westers. Live To Fish Charters (906-440-7797) can help make it happen.

New York rivers and inshore waters are teeming with big salmon in the fall.

Tackle You’ll Need: Salmon tackle and striped bass tackle (see above) are practically interchangeable. Fish might range from a few pounds to well over 20 pounds, and rods and reels should be in the medium- to-heavy range. A light- to-medium spinning outfit capable of holding a couple of hundred yards of 10- to 14-pound-test monofilament or 30- to 50-pound-test braid should do for most applications, especially when casting lures. Try the Okuma Epixor XT-20 with a matching rod.

Quick Tip: Just to hedge your bets, tie a foot-long section of 2x mono to your streamer hook and add a beadhead Prince nymph or similar pattern to the other end. When salmon are finicky, they might flash at a streamer, but not take it. Sometimes, a smaller mouthful such as a nymph trailer will seal the deal.


Best Lures/Bait: For the most part, spawn-run salmon hit spoons, crankbaits or roe bags out of reaction rather than hunger. Shiny lures, such as the Luhr-Jensen Twinky Rig behind a flasher, the Acme Kastmaster Spoon and a variety of soft-plastic swimbaits or hard crankbaits, will elicit strikes. Fly fishermen favor Dahlberg Divers, Wooly Buggers, Hex Nymphs and Glo Bugs.

Walleyes Are Hungry and Willing

In similar fashion to bass, walleyes follow baitfish from the bigger lakes to feeder creeks and rivers with current.

Hot Spots To Fish: The Van Hook Arm of Lake Sakakawea (701-421-0360, in North Dakota is a prime walleye destination, as is Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago (920-598-0586,

Tackle You’ll Need: Power fishing it’s not. Though walleyes might fatten up to well over 10 pounds, 2- to 4-pound fish are more the rule. Depending on the average size of the fish, 4- to 10-pound-test monofilament or fluorocarbon will do.

For spinning enthusiasts, the Quantum Vapor PT with matching rod will work. If you prefer trolling to casting, or bouncing a weight and natural bait on the bottom, try a baitcasting outfit such as a Fenwick/Pflueger Night Hawk or Iron Hawk combo.

Quick tip: Trolling at night with diving jerkbaits, such as the Storm Original ThunderStick or Lucky Craft Pointer 110, is a great way to catch walleyes. Troll in patterns from deep to shallow and back again, as the fish tend to relocate up and down drop-offs and channel runs depending on bait movement.


Best Lures/Bait: Leeches, nightcrawlers, minnows and everything from crankbaits to spinners will find favor with hungry fall walleyes. Top picks include: Rapala’s Shad Rap, Berkley’s Flicker Shad, Mepps’ Black Fury, Rapala’s Husky Jerk and Northland Fishing Tackle’s Forage Minnow Jigging Spoon.

Photograph Courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources Walleyes weighing more than 10 pounds apiece are routinely caught in the fall, but most fish are "good eating size," averaging about 3 pounds. Thu, 11 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Camping Done Right: 5 Essential Outdoor Stores in Indiana If you are planning a camping trip soon, it’s best to stock up on all the imperative tools and supplies you might need while you’re out in nature. The local shops and high-quality, big-brand stores of Indiana offer everything you could ever want or need. Here are five essential outdoor stores in the state. 

JL Waters & Company is Indiana’s oldest, and most extensive, outdoor store. Serving adventurers, thrill seekers, and campers alike since 1973, JL Waters & Company is the place to go for all your outdoor camping needs. Whether you need a backpack, sleeping bag, tent, or everything in between, JL Waters has it all! They carry everything from brands such as Gore-Tex, Marmot, Nikwax and Snow Peak. If you’re new to camping, JL Waters has trained and experienced employees that will teach you how to use your camping gear, and which gear is most appropriate depending on your trip. 

Another great store in Indiana for all your outdoor essentials is Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) in Indianapolis. REI believes that a life outdoors is a life well-lived. Not only do they provide campers with the best of the best with products such as YETI coolers, REI Co-op tents, and medical kits, they also donate 70 percent of their profits to REI members, non-profit partners, and their staff. They donate millions of dollars each year to support conservation efforts and send some of their own to help build trails, clean up beaches, and restore local habitats that have been damaged. REI has also earned a place on Fortune magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” every year since 1998.

Rusted Moon Outfitters in Indianapolis, Indiana, started with just a few ideas: The right brands, the right gear, fair pricing, and amazing customer service. When you come to Rusted Moon, you’ll find a friendly and extremely knowledgeable staff ready and waiting to help you with all your camping needs. It’s that hometown camping store every city should have. With over 75 brands to choose from, it’s difficult to know where to start. Rusted Moon carries brands such as PackTowel, North Face, MSR, and Patagonia. For all things camping though, be sure to talk to Brad and Jake! And before you leave, make sure to say hello to the store mascots, Townes and Charlie. And be sure to bring your four-legged friends, as dogs are welcome here!

Academy Sports + Outdoors got its start in 1938 when Max Gochman opened his first store in San Antonio, Texas. Since then, the store has grown to over 230 throughout the Midwest and the southern part of the U.S. It’s the one stop shop for all your camping needs, with brands such as Magellan, Mr. Heater, Nalgene, and so much more. They also carry a small assortment of snacks and protein, such as Lenny and Larry’s cookies, and ThinkThin Superfruit bars. 

Cabela’s got its start in 1961, when Dick Cabela came up with a plan to sell fishing flies he purchased in Chicago. Cabela’s started out in direct-mail fashion, and in 1969, Cabela’s was operating out of a 50,000-square-foot facility in Nebraska. Today, Cabela’s ships to all 50 states and 125 countries outside the U.S. Cabela’s in Noblesville offers high-quality outdoor clothing and other supplies for all your camping needs. From Jetboil camping stoves to Columbia Whirlibird jackets to keep out the cold, Cabela’s has it all. Cabela’s embraces the philosophy of putting their customers first, and strive to create that perfect experience to keep customers coming back year after year. 

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5 Gorgeous Beach Campsites in Indiana Camping in Indiana is an adventure, and a beautiful one at that. There is nothing more beautiful than waking up next to a blue, picturesque lake and watching it sparkle under the sun. Before the temperatures turn cold, be sure to visit these five gorgeous lakeside campsites in Indiana!

With over 10,000 acres of water surrounded by thousands of acres of state and federally-owned forest, Monroe Lake (also known as Lake Monroe or Monroe Reservoir) is Indiana’s largest inland lake. The area is so peaceful and has over 200 electric campsites in addition to 94 non-electric (traditional) campsites. The views are spectacular with rolling hills, thick forests, and the many whispering streams. It’s an oasis and a favorite of Hoosiers. 

This summer’s most gorgeous lakeside campsite is that of Brookville Lake in southern Indiana. The lake stretches 17 miles from north to south, and attracts more than a million visitors each year because of its beauty. Watch as eagles soar through the skies and wind-blown sails glide through the water. Here you will find remnants of prehistoric Native American mounds, as well as 450-million-year-old Ordovician fossils. There are more than 25 miles of hiking trails available, as well as 400 campsites to choose from, and the best part: two beaches. You’ll feel as if you’ve entered heaven when you come to Brookville Lake!

Located 25 miles outside of Fort Wayne, Salamonie Lake is the ideal place for a family getaway. The views are impressive and can be seen from nearly all angles no matter where you are. For camping, be sure to stay at the Lost Bridge West SRA. There is a modern camping facility which includes flush toilets and hot showers. There are also self-reservation campgrounds which are more primitive— these are located right next to the lake. These sites have a fire ring and picnic table, as well as convenient access to the beach. Not too far outside Salamonie Lake is the Salamonie River State Forest in Lagro, Indiana. This is where you will find more of the recreational activities for the whole family to enjoy!

Cecil M. Harden Lake, known to most Hoosiers as Raccoon Lake (and formerly known as Mansfield Lake), opened in 1960 as part of the U.S. Army Corps flood-control project. Since then, it has become a favorite lakeside destination of Hoosiers and visitors alike. With native forests and large rock structures, Cecil is a sight to see, especially in the fall when the leaves start to change, adding even more color along the lake. Besides camping, visitors can also boat, fish, and swim. In October, be sure to take part in the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival, which is just a few minutes away!

Head toward Borden, Indiana, this summer and enjoy the beautiful sight of Deam Lake, named after Indiana’s first state forester, Charles C. Deam. Camping is permitted from March 1 to the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The lake is 194 acres, and has over 100 Class A campsites (modern campsites) with an additional 68 sites in the horsemen’s campground. This area is designed for recreation, and there are a multitude of activities available for everyone! 

Jack Frog/ Tue, 14 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Beautiful Backpack Camping Spots in Indiana No matter the time of year, Indiana is an excellent place to camp. The state has an abundance of places to backpack through and camp overnight, but here are the five most beautiful spots that should be on your list! Before taking a trip, be sure to check out tips brought to you by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources!

One of the best spots to backpack through and camp out is the Knobstone Trail. The trail is not for the faint of heart, as it is 58 miles and is often compared to the Appalachian Trail. It is Indiana’s longest footpath, and passes through several state forests. What makes this trail a perfect spot are the views. Once you’ve climbed several feet, you see the lay of the land for miles, and it really feels as if you’ve stepped out of Indiana and into the Appalachian Mountain area. Backpack camping is allowed, but only on public lands. It’s also suggested that overnight campers register at one of the nearby property offices, and that campers be sure to bring their own water supply. During much of the year, the trail is bare and has no incoming water source. For tips on hiking the Knobstone Trail, be sure to visit the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. 

Another great destination for backpacking and camping in Indiana is the Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area, which is part of the Hoosier National Forest. The trail has over 37 miles, and is close to Lake Monroe, giving it that perfect lake view. The area is peaceful and is perfect for a quiet weekend getaway. The almost five-mile Sycamore Loop trail is for hikers only, and it is absolutely beautiful, especially in the fall as the leaves begin to change. Camping is allowed on the trail, but campers must stay in the designated areas. For more information, be sure to visit the USDA website. 

One of the more advanced backpacking and hiking areas in Indiana is the Adena Trace Loop near beautiful Brookville, Indiana. Alternate between a calm and cool stillness as you backpack through the ravines and a high ridge top, which offers a spectacular view of Brookville Lake! The trail also offers many beautiful views of the Redbud and other flowering plants and trees. The trail itself is 25 miles-long, and it is recommended for overnight backpackers to start on the west side of the trail which would take them to the eastern side, where the campgrounds are located. 

As part of the Morgan-Monroe State Forest, the Tecumseh Trail is a great place for backpack camping in Indiana this year. The trail is over 40 miles-long and is the signature trail of the Hoosier Hikers Council. It starts in the Morgan-Monroe State Park and ends in a more remote area of Brown County, near the Monroe Reservoir. Camping is allowed on the trails, as long as campers stay in the designated areas. Visit the Hoosier Hikers Council website for more information as to the designated trails. As you move through the trail, you will see beautiful plants and flowers such as the Wild Geraniums and Star Chickweed. The trail does have many large hills, but they are considered “gentle” so even the newest backpackers would be able to conquer them. 

The final place that should be on everyone’s list for backpacking is the Yellowwood State Forest in southern Nashville, Indiana. The area is absolutely amazing with its views of trees, wildlife, and mini waterfalls. It’s even more beautiful in the fall, when the leaves change to various colors of bright reds, oranges, and yellows. There is also a lake that is over 100 acres and about 30 feet-deep, which makes for a wonderful view. Primitive camping is the only camping here, as well as a horseman’s camp for those who prefer to backpack on horseback. 

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5 Awesome Campgrounds for Families in Indiana Nothing says summer in Indiana like camping. Whether it is taking out the RV, staying in a cabin, or sleeping in a tent under the stars, Indiana has some of the best, family-friendly campgrounds to offer in the Midwest. Keep in mind that some of these parks have their specific seasons for when they open and close, so be sure to check before making a reservation. Check out these five awesome campgrounds for families in Indiana and start planning your trip! 

Located on the beautiful, sandy shores of Lake Shafer, Indiana Beach provides hours of fun and entertainment for families of all ages, and has been since it first opened in 1927. Not only does this amazing water park provide thrilling rides and amazing food, Indiana Beach is also home to some beautiful campgrounds as well. Guests have their picks of an RV site, tent campsite, or a cabin. Some amenities include a swimming pool (with a kiddie pool), miniature golf, lake access, three playgrounds, and game barn. As part of accommodations, guests also have access to the free, old-world style ferry boat to take them to the amusement park, in addition to a trolley.

Located in northeast Indiana on Lake Pleasant, Manapogo Park is a beautiful destination for all the campers. It is mostly an RV and pop-up tent campground spot. However, they do have rustic cabins available as well. There is always something to do at Manapogo Park. With activities such as basketball, volleyball, and a fenced-in playground, this is the perfect place for the family. Parents can enjoy spending time on the beach while the little ones splash in the waves. If fishing is your thing, Manapogo Park has some of the best fishing spots around. If you are looking for something to do outside the campground, consider going to the Shipshewana flea market, which is about a 30-minute drive away.

We definitely were some #HappyCampers. #ThisWasFun #Throwback πŸ•

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Owners Dan and Cyndee Gillmore are committed to providing a beautiful place to relax and have some good old-fashioned family fun at the Cornerstone Campground. With so many activities to choose from, it’s hard to decide what to do first! Cornerstone Campground offers swimming pools, ball courts, playgrounds, ping pong tournaments, movie nights, and more! This is the place to be with your family this summer. If you are a company, consider Cornerstone Campground for future company retreats. Your employees will thank you!

❀fall trees❀

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Once the kids see this spot, they’ll never want to leave! For starters, the wide range of activities on the site include special weekend events, a jumping pillow, inflatable water toys, a water trampoline, and a beautiful sandy beach. The restrooms are clean, the showers are hot, and there are even laundry facilities! At this campground, you can stay over in your RV or tent. There are also rentals available for 24 and 30-foot yurts, as well as cabins.

Oh how I've missed these summer nights .. πŸ•πŸ”₯😌 #camplife

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Another New Castle family favorite is the Walnut Ridge Campground. Walnut Ridge is the place to go if you are looking for a quiet, relaxing, family-friendly camping experience. Whether you are a seasonal camper or you’re just staying for a few days, there are a variety of camping options to choose from here at Walnut Ridge. The activities are endless as well, with corn hole tournaments, pitch in dinners, karaoke, and golf cart races! Looking to do something outside the campground? Walnut Ridge is within driving distance to places such as the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, historic New Castle, and the Big Blue River. 

Ladanivskyy Oleksandr/ Mon, 13 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Awesome RV Campsites in Indiana Let Mother Nature work her magic as you reconnect with nature and escape the everyday hustle and bustle. Across the state of Indiana, you’ll discover an abundance of excellent RV campsites just waiting for you to pull up, set up camp, and stay the night. Camping in an RV provides the getaway you’re looking for, all while offering the comforts of a kitchen, a cozy place to sleep, and more. Here are five awesome campsites in Indiana. 

If you are looking for some place that is more than just an RV campground, head on down to southern Indiana to Thousand Trails’ Horseshoe Lakes. The area is over 290 acres and boasts a family-friendly atmosphere with the charm of a true campground. Situated on spring-fed lakes, Horseshoe Lakes has 11 lakes to fish in! If fishing isn’t your passion, there are other activities to do as well. Try your hand at a game of shuffleboard or mini golf. There is also a swimming pool, playground, volleyball and basketball! It’s fun for the whole family. 

France Park is Logansport’s hidden gem RV campsite. With over 200 campsites, there is something for everyone when you camp at France Park. One hundred and thirty sites have electricity and water hook-ups. Pets are allowed if they remain on a leash. There are shower houses available, and several playgrounds as well. The area itself is beautiful. With scenic trails to a breathtaking waterfall and picture perfect cliffs, there is no shortage of scenery to be found. There is also a designated fishing lake, and the Old Kenith Depot Store that has all your camping needs! Have you ever wanted to scuba dive? France Park is THE dive site in Indiana. The waters are crystal clear and there are plenty of fish to be found. For those of you that love Frisbee golf, you’ll be delighted to find 24 spots to play!

Welcome to Timberline Valley RV Resort, another one of Indiana’s premier camping resorts! Though it is only a few miles away from I-69, it feels as though you’ve left the city and entered an entirely remote part of Indiana. Timberline Valley is made up of 80 beautiful and scenic acres, and has a country-like feel to it. What makes this spot a bit different compared to other areas of camping is that Timberline Valley offers a 3.5-acre lake with a beach! The beach isn’t large by any means, but it certainly reminds you of being up at Indiana Dunes! Timberline Valley is for families and couples alike, and offers 95 RV sites. Each site includes a picnic table and fire pit. Not far from Timberline Valley is the Indianapolis Speedway, and be sure to visit Fairmount, Indiana, during their annual James Dean festival!

Perhaps one of the most popular RV campsites in Indiana is in Brown County. The park has dozens of different campsites and offers a variety of amenities. Check out the park’s nature center or country store. There is also a swimming pool, tennis courts, and so much more! Try a morning or evening trail ride and watch the sunset along Brown County’s beautiful forests. Whether you prefer biking or hiking, there are trails for all levels and preferences. Dine under one of the park’s picnic shelters and enjoy a delicious meal. 

One of the most highly-rated RV parks and campgrounds in the state, Eby’s Pines will give you the family getaway you’re looking for. Camping areas include deluxe full hook-up pull-through sites designed for larger units, full hook-up sites, electric and water sites, and primitive sites. On the grounds, you’ll find a 2,400-square-foot heated swimming pool, hiking and snowmobile trails, a game room, a roller-skating rink and laser tag arena, tennis courts, basketball courts, and much more.  

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5 Awesome Trail Running Spots in Indiana Trail running is a popular activity for those seeking to get fit in Indiana. There are many trails to choose from, some within state parks, others are hidden gems. From spring until fall, here are five awesome trail running spots in Indiana!

The first trail running spot that should be on your list is the Mason Ridge Loop. The trail is part of the Morgan-Monroe State Park, located in southern Martinsville, Indiana. The trail is roughly three miles and is deemed moderate. It offers spectacular views of the changing leaves, as well as nearby lakes. If Fido enjoys running with you, the trail also allows dogs if they are kept on a leash. 

If you’ve never been to the Indiana Dunes up in northern Indiana, this is a prime spot for trail running. The West Beach 3-Loop Trail covers roughly 3.5 miles, but you can break apart the trek as you’d like. Dogs are also allowed, so be sure to bring your pup with you! The views on this trail are amazing. From the beaches to the sloping sand dunes, everywhere you turn on this trail there is something to see. 

The White River Trail near Anderson, Indiana, is known for having some of the most beautiful, natural land and wetland areas. There is an abundance of flowers and other plants, perfect for taking pictures as you run and absorb the sights. The trail is most beautiful in the springtime, especially when the flowers and plants are at their peak. As you run, you’ll see plenty of green and an assortment of wildlife. The view of the White River is spectacular, and it’s recommended to stop for a moment and enjoy the peaceful rustling as the river trickles by. There are also benches nearby if you find yourself needing a break.

The Chesapeake and Ohio Greenway Trail, also known as the C&O Trail, is just under two miles-long. The trail runs through the town of Merillville, which is in northern Indiana. In one part of the trail there is a pedestrian bridge which runs over Turkey Creek, and the other part of the trail goes through popular shopping areas in northern Indiana. Along the way, the trail divides into a more wooded area, which is absolutely breathtaking as you find yourself surrounded by trees. The C&O Trail runs diagonally, and the views are aplenty on this trail. From city to wilderness, there is so much to see. 

The Oak Savannah Trail is in northern Indiana, and is roughly nine miles-long. Runners travel between Hobart and Griffith in northern Indiana, which is known as Indiana’s Chicago metropolitan area. First-time visitors might not realize there are hundreds of natural areas one will encounter along the trail. See the old Porter Branch of the Elgin, Joliet, and Eastern Railway. Run by 300 acres belonging to the Hobart Prairie Grove of Indiana Dunes, which takes you to the edge of the beautiful Lake George. The farther you go into the trail, it becomes more of an urban setting before changing back to quiet forest and prairie-like settings. 

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5 Energizing Hikes in Indiana No matter the time of year, Indiana is a gorgeous place to hike. For the more advanced or intermediate hiker, these energizing hikes will put you to the test. And before you hike, remember to pack the essentials: water, food, bug spray, cameras, and extra layers just in case!

One of the best trails of the Hoosier National Forest is the Two Lakes Trail. The trail is over 15.5 miles-long and offers amazing views of the Indian and Celina Lakes. It also forms a figure eight around both lakes. The trail features hardwood forests and there are many steep slopes. Visitors will encounter all walks of wildlife along the trail. Visitors can opt to hike the trail two ways: taking the full outer loop of the trail which is the full 15.5 miles, or they can hike the eight-mile loop around either lake. 

The Harrison-Crawford State forest is among the most beautiful places to trek during the fall. The changing leaves of this 24,000-acre rugged hardwood forest makes for an excellent backdrop for a hike. For something a bit more challenging, opt to navigate the Rocky Ridge Trail. This hike starts at the fire tower and moves west for an incredible two-mile adventure.

Falls Canyon Trail inside McCormick’s Creek State Park (Trail 3 on the park’s official website) is a challenging but beloved trail for Hoosiers. The terrain is filled with hills and as you pass through, there are many creek crossings. Be sure to check the weather before crossing as sometimes the water levels rise enough to make this part impassable. Visitors will also see something a bit unusual and not widely found across Indiana: a beautiful waterfall. Visitors will also see the amazing amount of limestone Indiana has throughout its southern parts. The more limestone you see, that’s usually a good indication of more hills and slopes to come! This trail is just under a mile and is considered rugged, so come prepared. 

Considered to be a moderately difficult trail, Bloodroot Trail is part of Salamonie Lake near Andrew, Indiana. The trail is 13 miles long and starts at the Salamonie Interpretive Center. From there, visitors can hike through fields and woods to the Mount Etna State Recreation Area and hike the bluffs that overlook the gorgeous lake. The trail has steep hills and valleys, and visitors should take care to stay on the marked trails to avoid getting lost. 

Located in southern Indiana is the Morgan-Monroe State Forest. The park is more than 24,000 acres encompassing Morgan and Monroe counties, and has many steep ridges, valleys, and some of the finest trees around Indiana. For the more experienced hikers, Three Lakes Trail and the Low Gap Trail are the most popular here. Both trails are about 10 miles long, and have long, large hills with switchbacks in between. As visitors walk, they will also see some of the most beautiful views the forest has to offer, especially in the fall. 

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Making the Most Out of Potato Creek State Park Indiana has dozens of beautiful state parks to visit, but the one that should be on the top of your list is Potato Creek State Park in northern North Liberty, Indiana. Just 12 miles southwest of South Bend, the park has a wide variety of activities and facilities that let visitors enjoy it year-round. Here’s how to make the most out of your time at Potato Creek State Park. 

Situated in north-central Indiana, this park covers 3,840 acres of land. Potato Creek has a 327-acre lake known as Worster Lake, mature woodlands, restored prairies, and diverse wetlands which offer exceptional opportunities for plant and wildlife observations. In the park, visitors will find mountain biking trails, hiking trails, a nature center, picnicking areas, a camp store, and even cultural arts programs. Potato Creek is made up of a diverse ecosystem, and much of Earth’s natural processes are responsible for how the park looks. The park’s landscape was created by glacier erosion. Because of the different soil found within the state park, it has a variety of flowering plants. It is made up of a prairie ecosystem, including wetlands, grasslands, and savanna. Visitors will also find a variety of swamps, marshes, bogs, and lakes. 

This beautiful park has some of the best hiking trails in northern Indiana. Trail 3 is recommended because it travels along a ridge which overlooks the gorgeous Worster Lake before traveling through the Beech Maple Forest. In the fall, this is the best hiking trail to see the changing of the leaves. After Beech Maple Forest, the trail leads down to the lake’s observation deck, where visitors can relax and enjoy the view of the water. In the spring, this trail is abundant with colorful spring wildflowers. 

Potato Creek State Park has an abundance of campsites to choose from. Whether you prefer traditional camping or sleeping in a cabin, there is a campsite for everyone. The best camping spot is on the back side of the campground, which gives visitors the optimal view of the lake. Any site in the 100s is where you will want to be for the view of the sparkling 327-acre Worster Lake. There is also a camping store near the front entrance of the park to pick up last minute supplies and snacks!

There are two restaurants that one must see when visiting Potato Creek State Park. First up: Doodle Grub, a delicious burger joint off Highway 4 in downtown North Liberty. It’s a family-friendly establishment with a small-town feel. Highly recommended is the macaroni and cheese with bacon, as well as the ice cream. Another great restaurant to check out is the Over the Top Bakery Café, serving up some of the most delicious baked goods. Each treat is handmade and scrumptious. Highly recommended is the freshly-baked apple dumplings! 

The best historical attraction close to Potato Creek State Park is the University of Notre Dame. The university was founded on November 26, 1842. It’s an independent, national Catholic university. It’s most notable structure is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. With its neo-gothic style, it has the 44 stained glass windows and murals, and the tower is 218 feet-tall. It’s the tallest university chapel in the U.S. Because of its historical significance, it is also on the National Register of Historical Places. The rest of the buildings and structures were designed with Greek and Roman influences. 

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Start Your Trek: 7 Unbeatable Hiking Retailers in Indiana The proper footwear, outerwear, and water bottle, will make all the difference on a hike. If you’re looking to head out for a trek, whether it’s five miles or 15, you’ll need the appropriate gear to be comfortable. From the best brands in hydration systems to comfortable jackets for all types of weather, here are seven high-quality hiking retailers in Indiana. 

Located in northeast Indiana, Earth Adventures Unlimited carries a wide selection of outdoor equipment for the novice and the most experienced hiker. Moving into the winter season won’t deter many hardy enthusiasts and with their selection of clothing and outerwear, it will be sure to keep out the chill of fall and winter. One brand carried is Mountain Hardwear outerwear among other top-notch selections. Here you will find a wide variety of clothes for men and women that are perfect for hiking and guaranteed to keep the chill out.

Welp found my new favorite place in Fort Wayne πŸ˜πŸ’–πŸΆ

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Indiana’s oldest and most complete outdoor store, JL Waters has all your essential hiking needs covered with their wide selection of products. When hiking, having the proper footwear is important. Solid soles and more importantly, comfort. Favorite brands that are guaranteed to keep your feet warm and also dry are Gore-Tex and Merrell.

Russell the #BtownBeagle hit up @jlwatersandco to get shiny new gear for his camping trip to Hoosier National Forest

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Another great store for all your hiking needs is DICK's Sporting Goods. Carrying brands such as Timberland and Keen, you can always rely on DICK's to have everything you could possibly need for a day in the wilderness. From comfortable footwear, to breathable outwear, stock up on all your hiking essentials at DICK's Sporting Goods. 

Preparing for the October 2017 EL Camino

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The well-loved REI in Indianapolis is the place go for all your hiking gear. With a wide variety of backpacks, water treatments, and footwear to choose from, you can’t go wrong with REI. Inventory includes Osprey hydration packs, which are perfect to have when hiking because of their comfortable contouring fit, as well as breathable Patagonia outwear for all temperatures. 

Hunting for some new gear πŸ“Έ @daniela1310

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Opened since 1995, GEAR UP has been providing hiking enthusiasts with a wide variety of high-quality equipment and outerwear. What makes this store unique is not only the products that they sell, but GEAR UP also provides their customers with a personal gear consultant. These consultants understand that each person is built differently and that some items such as boots and backpacks require a fitting before buying. They match the person with the right gear that fits them. All of GEAR UP’s items come with lifetime warranties. Carrying brands such as Mountain Hardwear and Birkenstock, there is something for everyone here. 

Rusted Moon Outfitters in Indianapolis, Indiana, believes in providing their customers with the right gear, the right brands, fair pricing, and a great experience every time. They carry the best of the best in hiking products, whether it be outerwear, boots, backpacks, and more. They have brands such as Camelbak, which makes the most amazing water bottles and travel mugs. Another great brand for all your water needs is Platypus,which makes bottles and other storage containers, water filtration systems, and hydration systems. No matter your hiking needs, Rusted Moon Outfitters will meet them all!

One thing to always make sure you have with you when hiking is a good rain jacket. Cabela’s is the perfect place to go for a great rain jacket. Cabela’s carries brands such as Carhartt, Frogg Toggs, and Under Armour, perfect for keeping out the cold and the rain as you venture through the wilderness. 

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SPOTLIGHT: Things to Do in and Around Brown County State Park Indiana has a range of beautiful state parks to visit, but perhaps the most popular destination for Hoosiers and visitors alike is Brown County State Park in southern Nashville, Indiana. Not only is the park big and breathtaking, but Nashville makes for an excellent city to explore after your outdoor adventure. For impressive art galleries, cozy bakeries, and bluegrass music parks, here are some great things to do in and around Brown County State Park.  

This state park is THE hiking destination in Indiana, with over 70 miles of bridled trails for the equestrian enthusiasts, and over 18 miles of hiking trails for hikers of all levels of experience. The park also offer year-round camping, where visitors can enjoy the park’s two lakes, one used for swimming and the other for fishing during the summer, and ice fishing during the winter. For the little ones, try the park’s nature center, where they can learn about the park’s various wildlife such as white-tailed deer, raccoons, gray squirrels, and even wild turkeys! And though Brown County State Park is, without a doubt, the most popular attraction in Nashville, there are other things to do and see as well! 

I live my life fighting one bramble bush to the next. But what a view! - Indiana surprised me. I had no idea of all of the wondrous places it was hiding! Brown County is known as "the little smokey mountains" because all throughout the hills you could see fog rising up. Pair that with the setting sun and you have a truly breathtaking sight. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - #browncounty #browncountystatepark #indiana #exploreindiana #indianaphotographer #sunset #landscape #landscapephotography #explore #neverstopexploring #womenwhoexplore #exploremore #exploreeverything #explorepage #hike #womenwhohike #getoutside #getoutstayout #optoutside #travel #travelgram #traveladdict #instatravel #solotravel #adventure #adventureisoutthere #wander #wanderlust #girlswithmuscle #wanderwomeninc

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The first stop on your journey through Nashville should be the Brown County Art Gallery. The gallery was founded in 1926, and features over 400 paintings and artifacts in its Permanent Collection. Many of the original artists donated paintings and other items to create an ongoing exhibit, which is what visitors see today. Ninety years later, the gallery is still going strong and features the work of early Indiana artists, such as Gustave Baumann and William Zimmerman. 

For all the bluegrass fans out there, this is the place to be! The Bill Monroe Music Park and Campground is home of the Bill Monroe Memorial Bluegrass Festival, which is the oldest, and continuous, running bluegrass festival in the world. It’s also the home of the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Museum. Throughout the year, the park and campground hosts eight musical events, from bluegrass to blues, gospel and rock-n-roll. Bring the whole family, some lawn chairs, and pack a picnic as you enjoy the sounds of live music in the campground’s wooden amphitheater. All shows are held rain or shine!

For something more relaxing and enjoyable, head to the Brown County Winery, located deep in the rolling hills of Nashville. The winery is committed to providing their customers with outstanding, high quality and most importantly, local wine, as well as an educational and enjoyable experience. The winery offers complimentary, daily tastings of their different wines and of course, before you leave, be sure to purchase a bottle or case of your favorite wine! The Vista White Wine or the Traminette, one of Indiana’s signature wines, are highly recommended.

Winery with @taylor_helm72 πŸ’•πŸ·πŸŒΌ

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Another must-see destination in Nashville is the Brown County Playhouse, a 425-seat venue for a variety of entertainment, including concerts, live theatre, the latest movies, community events, festivals, and so much more. Popular shows include the Shimmy and Shake featuring a mixture of traditional belly dancing and modern music, Twist the Night Away in which visitors old and young can relive the music of the 1950s, and of course, Brown County’s very own Rich Hill’s World of Magic.

If you should ever be in Nashville and find yourself hungry and craving something good to eat, look no further than the Hobnob Corner Restaurant, an artisan inspired restaurant located in heart of Nashville. Step inside and be surrounded by rustic, historic charm, history, and some of the most delicious handmade, house-made food. Try a delicious cheeseburger or one of Indiana’s famous breaded tenderloin sandwiches, or one of the Hobnob specialties. Spinach lasagna or pot roast, anyone? And for dessert, try one of their delicious Chocolate Temptations!

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Craving a snack? Then you must visit the Carmel Corn Cottage, specializing in one of a kind, unique carmel corns. This charming little shop sits at the north end of Nashville on Van Buren street, and visitors can smell the caramel cooking over a mile away. The staff is extremely friendly and provide exceptional customer service. The shop offers 10 different types of caramel to choose from, as well as other flavors such as dill, maple and bacon. They also have some pooch corn for your furry four-legged friend! It’s truly one of a kind!

Bring Fido to this one of a kind doggie bakery in Nashville on your next trip, or at least be sure to bring back a few treats! The Bone Appetit offers over 20 flavors of premium, all natural dog treats made right here in the USA. The treats come in a variety of shapes, textures, and sizes. They also have treats for dogs who have dietary restrictions. When you choose a treat for your own dog, be sure to choose one to have sent to the Brown County Humane Society as well and save up to 90 percent. 

For all the craft lovers out there, come to Nashville’s one of kind, premier stamping and scrapbooking store! Wishful Thinking offers high-quality scrapbooking and stamping supplies you might not find in other stores. Wishful Thinking began in 2001 but it wasn’t until the following year that the store really took off thanks to owner Marlene Miller. Now, it’s the best place to find those unique, one of a kind craft supplies! The store also offers classes and other special events such as Artist Trading Swap, monthly card classes, and more.

For something a bit more unique, come visit the Emerald Pencil, a gallery of original art, gift cards, and curious things such as drawings, jewelry, vintage clothing and more. The Emerald Pencil is a tale of times past, furnished by creator Pamela Keech, who helps tell the stories of immigrant families by recreating their homes. It’s truly a unique sight to behold, and one everyone must see passing through Nashville!

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5 Best Birdwatching Hikes in Indiana There is nothing more peaceful than birdwatching. Being surrounded by nature, listening to the calls of the various species of birds, and feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin. In Indiana, there are many spots to choose from that are perfect for birdwatching and here are the five best birdwatching hikes for all the bird lovers out there!

With over 8,000 acres of wetland, upland, and woodland habitats, the Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area near Medaryville, Indiana, is the prime spot for birdwatchers. The area provides an ideal stop over for birds that are migrating, particularly sandhill cranes. The best time to see the cranes is near sunrise, when the birds fly out of the marshes to the nearby Goose Pasture and surrounding areas to feed, and then again at sunset, when the cranes migrate back to Goose Pasture and the surrounding marshes.

Sandhill Cranes

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Another popular spot in Indiana for birdwatching is the Hovey Lake Fish and Wildlife area in Mt. Vernon, Indiana. The area is nestled between the Ohio River and the Wabash River floodplains in southern Indiana. There are over 7,000 acres, with 1,400 of those acres made up of sloughs, marshes, and bottomland hardwood forest areas. Here, birdwatchers can see a variety of songbirds, raptors, and other waterfowl through the birdwatching observation area available to visitors. 

Head down to southern Morocco, Indiana, to find some of the best birdwatching that Indiana has to offer. The area is over 9,000 acres, with over 1,000 acres of open water, marshes, and flooded crop areas. Because of its enormous amount of wetlands available, the Willow Slough area attracts a variety of birds and other waterfowl. From gulls and terns, herons, grassland birds, warblers, swallows and more, there are so many birds to see at Willow Slough. Occasionally visitors will see rare species of birds such Ross’s goose, black rail, yellow-headed blackbird, and even a few osprey and bald eagles from time to time. It’s also the perfect place to hear the owls sing their songs at night. 

The Indiana Dunes State Park located in northern Chesterton, Indiana, is the perfect place for birdwatchers. The southern tip is an important area for feeding and resting migrating birds. Because of its location, the Dunes attracts a variety of bird species and influences their migrating patterns, such as black and white warblers, laughing gull, Connecticut warblers, yellow-billed cuckoo, and many more. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced birdwatcher, Indiana Dunes is the best place to be. Be sure to take part in the Indiana Dunes Bird Watching Festival, a four-day event in which avid birdwatchers come from around the world to see migrating birds and discover new species.   

Owned and operated by the City of Indianapolis, Eagle Creek Park is the largest park in Central Indiana at just over 5,000 acres. It’s made up of various upland and wetland habits, and is regarded as being a critical location for breeding, migrating, and over-wintering bird populations thanks to the park’s size, diversity of habitat, and a large body of water within the park. Of the many birds and other waterfowl that reside within and migrate to the park are several endangered species, such as red-shouldered hawks, black and white warblers, as well as hooded warblers, which are extremely rare for Indiana. Other species include field sparrow and brown thrashers. The park is also home to many non-releasable birds of prey, such as hawks, falcons, vultures, and owls. 

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5 Great Hiking Trails in Indiana When the weather is nice in Indiana, there’s no better way to immerse yourself in the state’s natural beauty than taking on one of its excellent hiking trails with the family. Now, a day on the trail can be strenuous for little legs and hikers with minimal experience. Not to worry! There are plenty of trails across the state suitable for all levels of skill—hiking trails that everyone in the family will enjoy. Here are five excellent hiking trails in the state. 

Indiana is considered a land-locked state, meaning there are no oceans nearby. While that may be true, Indiana does offer a beach bum’s paradise near Michigan called the Indiana Dunes State Park (or to most, Indiana Dunes or simply The Dunes). One of the best things about the Dunes is its abundance of hiking trails, especially of the family friendly variety. While some are labeled as more moderate or rugged, the easy hiking trails are highly accessible for the young ones. One of the easiest hiking trails in the area is three miles in length, and is truly whimsical during early spring. Hikers will be surrounded by beautiful flowers and ferns on this trek. 

Strawtown Koteewi Park is Hamilton County’s hidden gem. Located just to the east of Cicero, the park is 750 acres, and offers everything from hiking to cycling trails, trail riding for the equestrians (including pony rides for the little ones), as well as canoeing and archery. Everyone in the family will love this one. 

Nutty's Grand Adventure part 1

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Another popular area to go hiking in Indiana is Brown County State Park, near Nashville, Indiana. Nicknamed “Little Smokies” because of its close resemblance to the Great Smoky Mountains. Brown County State Park boasts 16,000 acres. The most popular time to visit Brown County is in the fall when the leaves change colors. During the summer though, visitors can hike or bike through the numerous trails, as well as take guided trail rides. For the family, check out the playgrounds and nature center, as well as the swimming pool! For lodging, try the Abe Martin Lodge which has motel rooms and cabins, as well as an indoor water park!

Located in North Liberty, Indiana, Potato Creek State Park is about 12 miles southwest of South Bend. The park offers six different trail levels from beginner to advanced, as well as bicycle and mountain biking trails. The park also offers a swimming area, bridle trails, nature centers, and playgrounds. 

Clifty Falls is the place to be in the summer. Located in Madison, Indiana, Clifty Falls State Park features miles and miles of hiking trails and beautiful scenery throughout. A dedicated hiker’s dream is Clifty Falls. For the children, there is a swimming pool and waterslide as well as the nature center. 

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5 Beautiful Scenic Hikes in Indiana There is nothing more relaxing than a hike. Walking through the wilderness, breathing in the fresh air and listening to the sound of wildlife scurrying by and overhead. Indiana is well known for the numerous areas to hike, and some of them have the most breathtaking scenes. If you are ever in the mood for a hike and want some beautiful pictures, take a trip to these five areas!

Considered to be Indiana’s best kept secret, Pine Hills Nature Preserve is one of the most beautiful places for a scenic hike in Indiana. The preserve was Indiana’s first dedicated nature preserve, and offers hills, gorges, sandstone bluffs with soaring evergreens and other trees, such as hemlock, white pine, Canada yews, oak, and more. As you hike, you will also see varying species of wildflowers, ferns, and other rare, exotic plants. There are five different trails to hike here at Pine Hills: Turkey Backbone, Woolen Mill and Mill Cut which takes you past the old Pine Hill Woolen Mill site, The Slide, named because of the many rock slides that have occurred over the years, Devil’s Backbone, a steep trail that is six feet-wide and 100 feet-high. If you are hiking with small children, avoid this trail. Last but not least is Honeycomb Rock. As you hike through this area, you will see a wall composed of complete sandstone that is over 300 million years-old. This area is truly rustic Indiana at its finest, and definitely worth the trip!

Just off Interstate 69 near Anderson, Indiana, is Mounds State Park. Here you will find unique structures of earth built by the Adena-Hopewell Indians. The largest structure, the Great Mound, is thought to have been constructed in 160 B.C. The “mounds,” as they are known, were used as gathering places for religious ceremonies. The park has six different hiking trails, ranging from easy to rugged. As you hike, you will see the White River and limestone bluffs, views of the picnic areas, as well as the spectacular Bronnenberg House, which belonged to the Bronnenberg family, one of the earliest settlers in the area. Be on the lookout for wildlife as you hike, watching for songbirds and waterfowl and water life. 

If you are looking for someplace that is peaceful, tranquil, and relaxing, look no further than Shades State Park. This area is a particular favorite of hikers and who could blame them? From the beautiful sandstone cliffs that overlook Sugar Creek and dozens of shady ravines, Shades State Park is breathtaking. The trails range in levels from easy to extreme. Hike through Lover’s Leap and continue down to the Steamboat Rock stairs and up into the Pearl Ravine streambed. At times though this trail may be impassable due to high water so watch for signs! You can also hike through Frisz Ravine and see the beautiful, tall beach, oak, and tulip trees. The easiest trail travels across the Red Fox Ravine, and be on the lookout for red foxes!

Charlestown State Park is located in southern Indiana, and is over 15,000 acres. This particularly hiking area is for the avid bird watcher. Watchers can see over 72 species of birds, from bluebirds, black vultures, and the occasional bald eagle if you are lucky! As you hike, you cross Fourteen Mile Creek in some areas. On the opposite side, you can view the creek from 100 feet above the water! Hikers will also see glimpses of the Ohio River and Twelvemile Island, as well as waterfalls! Note that this area is for the more experienced hiker. 

Established in 1903, the Clark State Forest is the oldest state forest in Indiana. Since its founding, the area has grown to 24,000 acres. The area was used as an experimental forest for many years, and many of those trees can still be seen from various areas throughout. There are three different trails to choose from: White Oak Nature, Resource Trail, and Knobstone Trail. The White Oak Nature trail is less than a mile, and is 143 acres. The Resource Trail is a mile long, and here you will see trees such as pignut hickory, white oak, and sugar maple. This trail is also prone to wildlife, so be on the lookout for birds, toads, and snakes! The last trail, Knobstone Trail, is 59 miles of pure back country, and crosses between Clark State Forest, Elk Creek, and Jackson Washington State Forest.

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5 Exhilarating Jet Skiing Spots in Indiana Don’t be fooled by Indiana being a landlocked state—we love our watersports! Indiana is home to over 80 beautiful lakes, so there is plenty of open water just waiting to be explored. So get ready for some thrilling fun on the water with these five awesome jet skiing spots in the state. 

Up in northern Indiana, close to the Pokagon State Park and Fort Wayne, is Lake James. A naturally formed glacial lake, Lake James has over 1,200 acres of recreational waters that are used for boating, fishing, water skiing and other water sports, such as jet skiing. Between the hours of sun up to sun down, visitors to Lake James can enjoy the beautiful waters and feel the wind in their hair as they roar down the lake on a jet ski. 

Another great area in Indiana for watersports is Patoka Lake, near historic French Lick and West Baden in southern Indiana. With over 20,000 acres of land and water, Patoka Lake is a must-see this summer. The lake itself is a little over 8,000 acres and is home to freshwater jelly fish and bald eagle nesting sites. It also the second largest reservoir in Indiana. It has a mild beach feel to it and you almost forget that you are in the Midwest. Before you take off, be sure to check out Bobber the Water Dog for water safety instructions, tips, and tricks! Check out Hoosier Hills Marina, which now rents Yamaha WaveRunners. 

Located about 10 miles southeast of southern Bloomington, Indiana, is the beautiful and picturesque Monroe Lake (also known to some as Lake Monroe or Monroe Reservoir). The lake itself is over 10,000 acres but the whole area is over 23,000 acres. Monroe Lake is Indiana’s largest inland lake and was built in 1965. Here you can camp, water ski, jet ski, and enjoy so many other water-based activities! The area itself is breathtaking, and in many areas, it can feel as though you’ve landed on your own private island surrounded by beautiful trees, water, and nature. If you don’t have your own jet ski, be sure to visit Lake Monroe Boat Rental just off State Road 446!

Located in northern Peru, Indiana, is Mississinewa Lake or Lake Mississinewa. A little over 14,000 acres total with 3,200 of that being lake acreage, Lake Mississinewa is a favorite of the locals in northern Indiana, including Kokomo. It’s a flood-controlled reservoir, and is perfect for those hot summer days when you don’t want to drive far but want the beach. It’s also perfect for camping with over 400 campsites and family cabins. Enjoy the feeling as you cruise through the open waters and take in some of the wildlife. When you arrive, you will have to pay an entrance fee, so keep that in mind. And before you leave, be sure to check out Southside Scoops Ice Cream Parlor!

Located in northern Monticello, Indiana, is Lake Shafer. Most Hoosiers know Lake Shafer to be the home of Indiana Amusement Park and Beach (Indiana Beach to the locals). Lake Shafer is also known for its many water park activities, including jet skiing. It is one of two reservoirs in Monticello, and shares its location with Lake Freeman. It’s a great place for a weekend getaway or a short vacation, as there are numerous cottages and cabins available for rent. Be sure to visit Indiana Beach while you are there. Visit Lake Shafer Boat Rentals to rent a WaveRunner at a reasonable rate! 

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